While thousands of new products and technologies will be shown off at the annual Consumer Electronics Show 2020 getting underway this week, I take a look back at the future technological wonders we dreamed about for the post-war years.
As a forward-looking people, Americans have fervently welcomed technology and invention into every aspect of our lives.
Especially during the deprivations and sacrifices of WWII, the glittering promises of a post-war world filled with unheard of conveniences and an abundance of tantalizing technological advances as presented by Madison Avenue gave hope to a war-weary public.
To learn about the future of the past, I take a look at a series of ads run by Seagram’s Canadian Whiskey entitled Men Who Plan Beyond Tomorrow. that ran during the early post-war years.
Tomorrows Automatic Sleep Comfort
Long before the smart thermostat The Nest, the futuristic home heating and cooling device that anticipates your temperature needs, the men of tomorrow envisioned automatic sleep comfort in your own home.
Twist the dials, and one control Panel will do all this: (1) Regulate window to admit filtered cool air at night…automatically close when you awake. (2) turn on your pin-point bed light and direct its rays to wherever you want them. (3) Slide closet door out of the wall and swing-out clothes, for your selection. (4) Raise mattress for ease in making the bed. (5) Turn on your favorite radio program. This built-in, automatic comfort is already planned for tomorrow’s homes!
The American in the post-war was going to live in a house built of glass, plastic and maybe a slab or two of steel or aluminum which was bought in a department store, delivered in a van and erected in a few hours.
It was radiant heated, this house; it stayed warm in subzero winter with the windows wide open, and in the summer, by a switch of a button it would be cooled with equal effectiveness. It was a fluorescent lighted domicile that was soundproof, dust-proof, termite-proof. And germ proofed ( by ultraviolet lamps).
And if it grew a little smudgy with use, its plastic-coated interior could be thoroughly cleaned with a damp cloth. It had a bathroom with a built-in sunlamp, a kitchen with automatic dishwasher, automatic laundry and ultra short wave diathermic cooking controls that did the dinner to a perfect turn while the little lady of the house took in a movie at the local theatre. ( assuming movie houses were able to exist in competition with home television.)
Commuting of Tomorrow
This 120 passenger car, lighted by cold cathode, will be air-conditioned and cleansed of dust, smoke and odors by static electricity.
The load-bearing inside walls will be plastic impregnated wood with an outside skin of aluminum. Announcer system tells passenger names of stations, brings news and music.
The Office of Tomorrow
In a world before Skype and computers, the work world envisioned by the copywriters in this 1945 advertisement came pretty close.
Electronic controls will let the executive of tomorrow revolve the center section of his office to take full advantage of sunlight streaming through the glass walls. Face to face conferences through television will be held cost-to-coast, and intricate calculations of quotas or sales by territories will be turned out at the touch of an assistant’s finger. Records will appear as if by magic from files automatically operated in the electronic age ahead.
The man of the house was to commute to his office in a modest helicopter that any fool could fly and that cost him no more than what he paid for his pre-war medium-priced car. But if he had to drive his car into town, it really wasn’t such a bad deal. It was a featherweight job made of plastic and light metals, with a transparent plastic nose and a plastic sky view top that admitted the health-giving ultraviolet rays, shut out the bothersome infrared rays and thus permitted passengers to take on a rich coat of tan without the discomfort of sunburn.
Communications of Tomorrow
In 1946 who would have imagined a world of Bluetooth, smartphones, fax’s, and e-mail? The Men of Tomorrow did…sort of.
“New wonders of speech and writing devices
A personal radio-telephone to connect you with almost anyone as you walk or drive. A dictating machine to type your letters as you talk into it. Coin-drop, change making facsimile machines on street corners to “accept” your handwritten telegram, and send it as is. All these by men who plan beyond tomorrow.
Tomorrows Private Walkie Talkie
When you’ve caught your creeful of trout in a stream miles from anywhere, you can reach your wife by your personal, portable radio-telephone…ask her to invite the neighbors for dinner….”
“Then driving home in your car, you can tell her just what time to expect you!…Fantastic? The portable radio telephone is already in use by our Armed Forces. Today’s weapon, tomorrow’s convenience!
Motorola had provided the army with Walkie Talkies so it was a natural assumption that they would catch on with the post-war civilian. It would be several decades before the ubiquitous cell phone entered our daily lives.
Now texting, tweets await the men who planned beyond tomorrow.
Enjoy Top News and Sports Events as You Dine
Tomorrow’s box seats for the things you don’t want to miss can be your favorite restaurant, where, on full screens, the game is covered in sight and modulated sound, play by play. Full-color television will bring you highlight news…the pageantry of parades…the performances of great stars. All on screens so placed that you can enjoy every scene without shifting your position.
And now in the comfort of our faux leather booth while dining at Applebees we never have to miss an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians!
Fresh Food Anywhere…Anytime
“Aerial freight trains of Tomorrow, a string of gliders towed by an air cargo plane, will fly fresh fruits, vegetables and regional delicacies from the south and far West, direct to winter-bound states. Each glider carries 2 tons, the mother ship 6, and safe landings will be assured through ground radio control.”
The Men who planned beyond tomorrow obviously weren’t locavores nor concerned about their carbon footprint.
Copyright (©) 2020 Sally Edelstein All Rights Reserved
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Be grateful that we aren’t in Puerto Rico or Iraq tonight. The fatalities are horrendous.
The world of tomorrow is a fascinating exercise in imagination! It is fun to look back at futuristic movies like “Soylent Green”, “Sleeper”, and “2001: A Space Odyssey” to see how the movies fare in predicting the future. The flip phone is the grandchild of the communicator used in “Star Trek”.
Seagram “Canadian” whiskey with barely a hint that Canada even existed to Americans. Then, as now, little has changed.